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Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

Classical music agony aunt ALICE McVEIGH
deals with the all-too-human feelings
of annoyance, rejection and worry

? 'Dear Alice,

I have just been asked, at very short notice, to deputize in my former orchestra (an orchestra I used to play full-time in).

I could use the money, but I can't help feeling annoyed that they waited so long to call me, and my instinct is to tell them to get lost.

What should I do?
Anonymous, Michigan

Ask Alice

Alice Hi Anon,

There is only one answer to this question, which is this: smile graciously and accept.

Ignore your all-too-human feelings of annoyance and rejection: subdue your feeling that it would serve them right never to be allowed to use you again.

Remember: orchestras are in tough straits, as are orchestral players. You have nothing to gain from a refusal (unless you have been booked already by someone else, of course!) and everything to gain.

The orchestral fixer should forever be grateful for your good nature -- or, if not, you can just take the money (such as it is, of course) and run.

Yours sympathetically,

Ask Alice

? 'Dear Alice,

I worry that my child has extra lessons on the violin twice a week with the teacher as I believe that he has other ideas then music. How can I stop it?

Ask Alice

Alice Dear Anna,

First, you have to make sure than your instinct is correct. If it is, spare no effort. Refuse the money for the lessons (whether extra-long or normal, doesn't matter) and find another teacher for your kid.

However, you also have to face at least the possibility that your feelings for your child have misled you -- and that s/he might just be unusually gifted on the violin.

Don't shoot the teacher, in short, before you've focused the gun. She or he could very well be interested in your child for the best reasons, rather than the worst ...


Copyright © 18 September 2009 Alice McVeigh, Kent UK

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